English as a second language

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Updated: 8/12/2003 12:11 am
For millions of students, English is not the primary language. This poses special challenges for the teacher of a multi-lingual classroom. Preferably, he or she will have special training in ESL, or English as a second language. There are many different techniques and theories, regarding how to teach ESL students. Some people say a child shouldn't learn a second language, until they've mastered the first one. Yet, most schools have no choice but to teach the child English as soon as they enroll, so they can take part in the educational system. Typically, the native language is not immediately suppressed, but rather incorporated into the lessons, because this helps the child learn. One common approach is to teach children words in the new language by demonstration of actual objects. For example, during a craft project, they might emphasize colors of paper. Or, they might illustrate words like 'fire truck' by visiting a fire station. Listening skills can be developed by having students listen to a story on tape, while following along with a picture book. Teachers may have students 'write' stories, by dictating words that the teacher puts on the board. These are just a few examples. For more information on teaching or learning ESL, consult your school administration, or visit the library.

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